Archive for June, 2010

Murad Skin Care

Posted in Health and Beauty on June 30, 2010 by sbulletforever

I’ve tried pretty much every single skin care line on (and off) the market. You name it, I’ve tried it. Dermalogica, DDF, Proactive, Eminence, Boscia, Jolique, Bare Escentuals, Clinique, Lancome, Peter Thomas Roth, and others whose names I can’t recall off the top of my head. I used to have such horrible skin that I would stay up late and watch infomercials for acne products with a box of tissues and a pint of ice cream. Pathetic? Maybe. In any case, Murad is a name that I have come across many, many times. Some people swear by it, and I thought about giving it a try.

However, before I start any skin care regimen, I do hours of research on it. So I looked up all the reviews I could find on it and looked up all the ingredients in it. And, in doing so, I decided NOT to buy it. And I’m going to tell you why you should NOT buy it as well.

Murad concentrates on young skin- their products are for clearing up acne, acne scars, and even rosacea. This is not a brand for older skin! So just keep that in mind. Their best-selling Clarifying Cleanser claims to kill 99.9% of bacteria on your skin in less than a minute.

You might be lured in by what seems to be great prices. $26 for 6.7 ounces of Clarifying Cleanser? $35 for 12 ounces? That’s a fantastic deal. However, their Exfoliating Acne Treatment Gel (which Murad says is an absolute MUST for your skin care regimen) is $54 for 3.4 ounces. That’s…pricy. The Post-Acne Spot Lightening Gel is $60 for only 1 ounce! That’s just ridiculous. And Murad’s ‘Environmental Shield Regimen’, which is more gentle and soothing than their ‘Acne Regimen’, is even more expensive! How can a company ask so little for their cleanser but then screw you for all the other products you need?

That’s my first complaint. Second is the reviews I’ve been reading, which quite frankly are disturbing. I’ll say now that not one single one raved that Murad was the end-all, d0-all of cleansers. Most positive reviewers say that the brand has helped reduce their acne, helped reduce their oiliness, and helped reduce their pore size. Only one or two have said that Murad completely cleared up their face, left glowing results, or prevented future breakouts. It helps, most say, but it doesn’t give you perfectly clear skin. It also does not affect acne scars or hyperpigmentation. A lot have said that you can feel it cleaning your skin- it tingles and leaves a cooling sensation.

I can name a number of products that give better results than that. If even the most positive of reviews can’t say that it left stunning, glowing results, there’s a problem. So I looked in to the negative reviews and was absolute horrified by what I read. Reading those was like reading the horrific account of soldiers on a battlefield. The #1 complaint was that Murad completely dried out their skin. Many suffered intense burns and flakiness within a few days of using it. The #2 complaint, a close runner-up to #1, was that the ‘Acne Regimen’ products made them break out. You won’t believe the number of reviews I read where people ended up with millions of tiny, aggrivated bumps forming on their faces after using the Clarifying Cleanser. Some had an even worse reaction- their entire face was swollen (like from an allergic reaction) and it took at least a week to heal. And that was more than one person suffering from that kind of severe reaction. People had skin that peeled! Many broke out even worse! It increased oil production on a number of people!

That’s just wrong. It’s true that products react differently on different people, but having half of the Murad users end up with those kinds of problems is a nightmare. A handful of people with problems is always a given, no matter how perfect the product is. But when more than one person has a severe allergic reaction to a facial regimen, there’s a SERIOUS problem.

After reading those stomach-turning reviews, I looked up the main ingredients in the Murad products. In the best-selling Clarifying Cleanser, the main ingredient is 1.5% Salicylic Acid. That’s a good acid to have in your face wash (so is Glyolic Acid)! And it’s true that large percentages of acid can dry your skin out and make it have a reaction. But only 1.5% Salicylic Acid won’t do that to you! So I looked at the other main ingredient- “Powerful Antibacterial Ingredients”. That’s literally what it says. The actual ingredient list has a long mass of words I can’t identify, so I don’t even know what those antibacterial ingredients are. How ridiculous is that? You don’t even get to know the main active ingredients in the face wash! So then I looked at the Clarifying Toner ($22), another must in a face care regimen, and found a problem. The main active ingredient is Witch Hazel! WITCH HAZEL!!!!!!! That’s like taking a bottle of pure alcohol and swabbing in on your face! No wonder people are having dry skin- this brand is using rubbing alcohol. Someone must have taken some mind-altering drugs before creating this line.

I checked each and every Murad product they sell, and people have complained of severe reactions and breakouts from using every single one. And, of course, I can’t identify all the ingredients in these products because Murad just uses a general word to describe them (like ‘antibacterial ingredients’). In any case, I’ll tell you right now to say away from this brand.

If you want results for oily skin and acne problems, I’ll tell you what to use: DDF. I swear by it. It’s better than Dermalogica! You’ll never want for a better skin care line. They have a 5% gylcolic acid face wash, a 2% salicylic acid face wash, a benzoyl peroxide face wash, a salicylic acid/azelaic acid face wash, a glycolic/salicylic acid face wash, and two aloe-based cleansers. A face wash for every kind of concern and problem you’ll ever have with your face. They don’t contain filler ingredients or rubbing alcohol (can you believe that!!!?!??!)- they’re just good, clean products. They have a 10% glycolic acid toner for those with oily skin that does wonders. I can’t say enough about it. And, as always, using a Clarisonic brush makes your skin care regimen 40% more effective.

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Harajuku Lovers ‘G’ Fragrance

Posted in Health and Beauty on June 29, 2010 by sbulletforever

I’m extremely picky about what perfume I wear. So far, the only fragrances I like are Lolita Lempicka, Flowerbomb, and Pink Sugar. But I’m a sucker for cute things, and the packaging for the Harajuku Lovers fragrances are adorable. I decided to give ‘G’ a try.

‘G’ has the cutest bottle! Its a doll-style Gwen Stefani in an Alice in Wonderland-styled outfit. And the scent itself is unique and bright. Most perfumes smell the same- full of alcohol and musk. But ‘G’ is a wonderful blend of sweet coconut, mandarin, apple skin, Freesia, Jasmine, Magnolia and sandalwood. The coconut and sandalwood stand out the most!

It’s not overpowering, which is nice. You’ll have to spray a few spritzes on your wrists and clothes for it to really stand out. Best of all, it has great staying power! It’s a unique scent that will definitely make you stand out from the crowd. I’d definitely give this a shot if you like tropical scents, though I’ll just say that the sandalwood really plays down the coconut. And it has a great price- 22.50 for an ounce. Most brand-name perfumes are more expensive than that.

Sensations Skin and Day Spa, Las Vegas

Posted in Health and Beauty on June 24, 2010 by sbulletforever

On my recent trip down to Vegas, I decided I was in serious need of some spa time. My chest was breaking out like crazy and my face has seen better days. And the great thing about Vegas is that there are so many spas to choose from! But, because my wallet is a bit tight, I ended up going with the best value I could find: Sensations Skin and Day Spa. It’s located at 3155 North Rainbow Boulevard in Cheyenne Commons.

It’s the tiniest spa I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been to a lot. The desk is crammed across from the front door, there are a couple chairs for the ‘waiting room’, a skinny hallway with a couple of treatment rooms and a bathroom. But despite the size, it had a good ambience and was nicely decorated. The receptionist was very friendly, which is always important, and I didn’t have to wait long.

I can’t remember the name of my aesthetician, but she had really short bleach-blonde hair. I asked for a microderm on my face (I didn’t want to go through the peeling process on vacation) and a glycolic peel on my chest. The prices were great! It’s $55 for a glycolic peel and $65 for a microdermabrasion session. Normally (in Nevada), you would pay 120+ for a peel and 100+ for a microderm treatment.

I did have a little trouble when it came to peeling my chest. I get breakouts down between my cleavage and I asked her to make sure she got those spots. I tried pulling my towel down as low as I could get it, so she could reach it, but I ended up pulling it too far down and exposing myself. Which I could care less about- she’s a woman and a licensed aesthetician for God’s sake. But SHE freaked out! Apparently she wasn’t comfortable with that. So I tried to compromise and asked her to just reach down the towel and get the acid all the way between my breasts, because I have a large concentration of acne and scars there. OH NO! She freaked out about that, too! So my glycolic peel on my chest turned out to be not quite all of my chest, which irked me.

The microderm was very brief and should have lasted longer and been more thorough. I guess she just half-assed it because she thought I was too young to benefit from it. She concentrated on using the last crystals on my neck (total waste of time since I’m so young) instead of my nose and other scarred areas. Altogether, the two treatments should have taken at least an hour and fifteen minutes, but I was out of there in fourty-five minutes.

How were my results? Decent, especially considering the price. The glycolic did wonders for my chest breakouts! Gotta’ love acid. My micro helped give my face a bit of a glow, made my pores appear smaller and made me feel refreshed. So all-in-all I approved of the spa trip. I’d prefer having a different aesthetician, though. I probably would have gotten a better micro treatment and a full glycolic peel on my chest. In any case, it was worth it.

Creative Colors Salon

Posted in Health and Beauty on June 22, 2010 by sbulletforever

I needed my hair done badly. It’s been many months since it was last colored, it’s been growing out wild for over a month now, and I just had an epicly bad breakup with my boyfriend. A cut and color sounded like the doctor’s orders, you know? So I did my research and around the Reno, NV area the two most highly recommended salons are Creative Colors and An Epic Salon. Price-wise, Creative Colors was the better deal, so my mom and I scheduled private appointments for tonight to get it done.

With her at work until 7, I went in first. It’s a very small salon on W Plumb Lane next to the Arlington Gardens. I do mean small! It is tied together with the Healing Wizdom spa inside the Arlington Gardens, which is half the size of the salon (if you can believe it). It has a spiritual, hippie-like feel to it. Lots of angels and crystals and faeries- that sort of thing. Anyways, I came inside and met my stylist Shirley.

Now, let me be clear- my mom and I called a couple of days ago to schedule this, and we were damn specific about what we wanted. This salon advertises that it carries the color pink (not a lot of salons do), and that’s exactly what I wanted. I’ve missing having pink and blonde hair! So we triple checked with Shirley beforehand to make sure she could do pink and that they would have the color in stock. My mom and I offered to come in yesterday around 5:00 so she could take a look at our hair and see what she was dealing with and get some ideas. We showed up and she’d left! A lady at the Healing Wizdom Spa called her phone a few times and left messages asking her where she was and if she would give us a call. And guess what? She didn’t bother calling us back.

Anyways, I walk in there…and Shirley tells me she CAN’T DO IT. She doesn’t feel comfortable doing blonde and pink since she says the pink will bleed all over the blonde and turn my whole head pink. Which isn’t true if you take the right steps, as my previous stylists have done, but she obviously doesn’t know how. Plus, she doesn’t like the Pravana color of pink they carry and would prefer not to use it. I was stunned. She knew exactly what I wanted for a couple of days, and even when she was supposed to call us back, she didn’t. And if she knew she didn’t want to do the blonde and pink in my hair, she should have said so earlier. TOTALLY UNPROFESSIONAL! I mean, waiting until your client has already arrived to tell them you can’t do what they want is ridiculous.

Not to mention, Shirley smelled of tooth decay and tobacco. Even having her breathe on me made me literally nauseous. Dazed and thoroughly upset, I told her I wasn’t comfortable having her cut my hair and I didn’t want any other colors than blonde and pink. She was hurt and wanted to know why I was so upset and why she made me feel uncomfortable. She wanted to try putting other colors in my hair, but even then, she didn’t sound like she knew what she was doing! She had no artistic vision at all from what I could tell, and she didn’t sound sure of herself. So Shirley set me up with an appointment on Thursday, which I will be cancelling tomorrow, and promised she’d ‘try to do the blonde and pink’.

I’m very frustrated and upset! What an unprofessional salon. I don’t ever want to go back again, despite all the raves it got on Yelp*.com. I wanted my hair done so badly, but Shirley couldn’t even give me the courtesy of calling me and telling me she didn’t know how to do blonde and pink hair.

Navel (Belly Button!) Piercings

Posted in Health and Beauty on June 15, 2010 by sbulletforever

So a couple months ago my now ex-boyfriend’s roommate thought I needed a belly button ring. My mom has one, so it wasn’t some dramatic idea, and I figured, “What the hell? Why not?”. So I went down to Sinful Skin Tattoo and Piercing on Plumb Lane in Reno because the roomie said it was a good place. The outside looks sketchy, okay? No other way to put it. There’s a bar next door and the windows are tinted black so you can’t see inside, and it’s not in the best part of town. I was not sure.

Inside, however, the place is lovely! Very clean, very professional. There were a couple people at the front desk who asked me if I needed help, and they were the nicest receptionists at a tattoo parlor EVER. Quite frankly, most people who sit at the desk of a tattoo parlor/piercing shop are mean, rude, and condescending. I was quite impressed.

I can’t remember what his name was, but a young man with brown hair and a limp took us back to the piercing section. He had me pick out which jewelry I liked, and they had the best selection! Not just those cheap candy-colored barbells, but very cute dangling jewelry and even a selection of real gold. He was such a flirt, I swear he could have talked me into anything. Watch out for that smooth talker! So I filled out paperwork and he led me into a private room to get my piercing done. It was small, but I liked that it had mirrors on one side of the wall so you could see what he was doing from the chair. He set everything up and was very professional. Gloves on, instruments taken right out of sterile bags, clean and fresh everything.

I was nervous, but in the end I laid down in the chair and let him do it. He took a black marker and marked the spot where he was going to make the incision, and he made sure I liked where it was. Then he cleaned the area and took a needle and pushed it through. Didn’t take more than a few seconds as he pierced the area.

Pain? No. I didn’t even tense up. It burned a little as he pushed the needle through, but it didn’t even feel like a needle at all. NO PAIN!! Piercing your ears hurts worse than that. There was a few drops of blood, but he wiped it away and it stopped bleeding instantly. And then I had my belly ring (a dangling fender-style guitar) put in and I was free to go. The whole ordeal cost me $55, but I didn’t think that was outrageous. The staff was friendly and professional, my piercing was clean, my jewelry was stainless steel and very cute.

Of course, after a while it became really sore and red. This is normal! Your body tries to heal the area and the redness and soreness is just your body’s natural defense. It took a few weeks for the pain to subside. I slept on my back and side since sleeping on my stomach hurt for a while. I wore lose shirts and pants without belts to keep my clothes from catching on my ring. Oh man, those couple of weeks really hurt me! And I was super careful in the shower to not snag my ring with my towel or washcloth, but I got lucky and it never happened. After a few weeks the pain subsided, but it does take 6 months to a year before the navel piercing actually heals up.

Now, here’s what you need to know about cleaning:

  • Don’t touch your piercing with your hands. Your hands always have bacteria on them and you don’t want an infection.
  • Use q-tips and dip them in a bottle of peroxide, then rube the wet q-tip on each side of your belly ring. Move the ring around so the peroxide gets inside the piercing. It will bubble and fizz, which means it’s killing bacteria and cleaning you up.
  • Afterwards, dry the area with a clean end of a q-tip.
  • Then get Neosporin or some kind of anti-biotic healing cream and squeeze some on the end of a clean q-tip. Rub this on both ends of your piercing and move it back and forth, getting the cream inside your piercing.
  • Let it sit and do this TWICE A DAY. That’s it- that’s all you have to do.

Pussing is normal. You will get yellow-tinted puss possibly from your piercing but that’s okay! Just keep it clean. It will be red sometimes and sore sometimes, but that’s okay. Remember that it takes at least 6 months to heal so it’s a slow healing process. Also KEEP MOVING THAT RING! It might hurt or feel ‘stuck’, but it’s good to occasionally push your ring back and forth so that it moves smoothly through your skin. You’ll need to move it anyway for cleaning so you can get every part of the piercing.

Only use stainless steel jewelry! This will keep you from getting an infection from unclean jewelry. Most rings are a standard 14 gauge, just so you know. And if you’re looking for cute jewelry, look no further than eBay. I get the cutest rings and, even with shipping costs, it’s at least $10 cheaper than any local jewelry store.

Rememeber, 6 months minimum to heal! You can change your belly ring any time you like, though I wouldn’t do it the first few weeks of getting your navel pierced. Remember that if you leave your ring out then the skin will close up almost instantly and heal.

Diorskin Nude Natural Glow Hydrating Makeup SPF 10

Posted in Health and Beauty on June 14, 2010 by sbulletforever

I’ve yet to find a liquid foundation I approve of. The last I tried, MAKE UP FOREVER HD Invisible Cover Foundation, was a bottle-o’-cakiness. In any case, I love anything natural and light, and the Diorskin Nude foundation came highly recommended from the Sephora staff. Here’s what I thought:

First off, you need to know that this is expensive. For only 1 ounce of foundation you end up paying out $46. That’s a chunk of change for so little product! But it is nice foundation. The pump doesn’t pump out too much foundation and doesn’t make a mess. The foundation is light, creamy, and blends into the skin so perfectly that you can barely tell it’s there. It has a lovely perfume smell and is, of course, 100% mineral.

I discovered the big problem with this instantly. It’s SUPER SHEER. This liquid foundation is light, natural, and healthy for your skin, but it’s also NOT for troubled skin like mine. Even building the coverage, which is a great waste of $46, doesn’t do a whole lot. And even combined with the Diorskin Nude Natural Glow Fresh Powder Makeup SPF10 ($46), the coverage didn’t get any better.

Aside from the fact that it didn’t help cover my blemishes and redness, and aside from the fact that the price is insane for the tiny amount you get, this foundation is perfect. No more clogged pores, no more cakiness, no more completely masking your skin with a layer of paint. This foundation truly adds a stunning glow to your skin! This would be great for older skin especially, or at least skin without blemishes and scars. I’m so sad this didn’t work for me…

P.S. The powder works best as a setting powder, not as a real powder for coverage. In fact, it works better than Urban Decay, MAKE UP FOREVER, and Bare Escentuals setting powders.

tokidoki Luminosa Powder

Posted in Health and Beauty on June 12, 2010 by sbulletforever

I’ve never tried a highlighting powder before, simply because I have a hard enough time finding a blush or a bronzer I like. You know what I mean- some have ridiculous amounts of glitter/shimmer, some are so highly pigmented that you look like a clown, some are too sheer to even show up on your face. But, in light of my new tokidoki addiction, I wanted to give their highlighting Luminosa Powder ($22) a try.

This comes in a package identical to the Inferno Bronzers, which is a square package with a little heart and crossbones engraved in the powder. Very cute! The powder itself is a light pink in color with obvious shimmer, but it goes on with a very sheer white finish.

Honestly, I’ve never seen anything like this. I used this over my baby pink blush (Tarte Cheek Stain in ‘Doll Face’), being careful to tap excess off my brush. In regular light, it gives a natural glow to my face and adds just a hint of shimmer. Thank God it’s not full of sparkles and glitter!! It’s not an obvious thing- it just made my blush look softer and more natural. Kind of hard to describe, but it’s very flattering. In dim lighting, however, this is BREATHTAKING. The shimmer and pearl finish simply adds a supernatural glow to your skin. It looked like someone had painted my cheeks with moonbeams and starlight.

I can’t get enough of this powder. In daytime it’s so natural, and at nighttime it simply outshines anything you could put on your face. An absolute MUST for nights out! I can’t even imagine how stunning this powder would look dusted over my shoulders, cheeks, and decollete for a night on the town!